Best Books on Data Analysis, Visualization and Storytelling

Over the years, I’ve read plenty of books on data analysis, visualization and storytelling. I got most of the basic principles from reading books. Some are better than others. Here are some of the books I’d recommended to get started learning about data visualization and data storytelling.

The Truthful Art  by Alberto Cairo

This is a great book for anybody who visualizes data. The book is skillfully written, possibly due to the author’s journalistic background. It provides great examples of visualizations (beautiful fonts, colors, graphics..etc)  from all over the world throughout different time period for different types of data. It will fill your head with so many different ideas. There are dozens and dozens of references to dig further. The only downside of this book is that it doesn’t provide you with the practical step by step instruction or tools that you can leverage to replicate the visualization he showcases in the book. It is a great book to introduce people the possibilities of different types of visualizations. For anyone who wants to get started in data visualization, this is a must read.

Design for Information by Isabel Meirelles

This book includes basic principles and methodologies on design, cognition, perception and human computer interaction. It is well organized and easy to navigate and provide a good introduction to information design. It also has wonderful examples of information visualization, which could provide inspirations for some.

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics by Dona M. Wong

Beautiful book full of visualization examples that had been published on the Wall Street Journal. I’ve done plenty of data visualization through my day job as a data analyst and this book really acts as a reference for me whenever I need some quick inspiration on how to best visualize my data to convey my message in a simpler way. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is looking for a more advanced book on visualization as it covers pretty basic principle.

Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

If you do data analysis from day to day, you’d know how important it is to convey insights generated from data through storytelling. This book provides a basic introduction on presenting data and storytelling. There is no prerequisites. Anyone who is interested in the topic can pick up the book and benefit from it. Most of example are based on small data set so it’s easy to handle. I highly recommend this book for any business analyst hoping to get better at presenting data through storytelling.

Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan

This book is for anyone who doesn’t want to learn math / statistics the tradition way. The book has a conversational, humours tone which makes learning topics like regression analysis easier. I’d recommend this book to people with more of business background instead of math / statistics background. The statistics is fairly straightforward and it doesn’t really explain in depth. It’s a easy and light read for anyone who wants to understand statistics.

How Not to Be Wrong  by Jordan Ellenberg

This book is one of the most entertaining and engaging data book I’ve read. This book is not as systematic and direct as it might be like some serious textbooks, but for an non fiction book, this would actually open up your imagination and take what you learn from this book and apply to the real world. You will learn how to better judge the society and see the world through a more structural lens – a really helpful way of thinking for an analytics career.


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